EngD Offshore Renewable Energy

Duration Full time 4 years
  • Renewable Energy
  • Engineering
LocationCornwall (Penryn)
Start date September


This internationally-leading joint EngD with IDCORE aims to meet the UK’s ambitious deployment targets for offshore renewable energy technologies.

An EngD is a four year research degree awarded for industrially relevant research, the degree provides a more vocationally oriented approach to obtaining a doctorate in engineering commensurate with that of a PhD.

Led by the University of Exeter at its Cornwall Campus and based at the University of Edinburgh, this EngD programme is delivered through a partnership with the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Exeter together with the Scottish Association for Marine Science and HR-Wallingford.

The programme will allow you to receive postgraduate-level technical and transferable skills training at three leading UK universities in the renewable energy research field together with the Scottish Association for Marine Science and HRWallingford. This university and industry collaboration forms the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), RCUK Energy programme/ETI-funded Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE).

This degree is professionally accredited under licence from the Engineering Council. Visit the Professional accreditation tab for further information.

Students will benefit from a vibrant learning environment and, in partnership with industry, will learn to deliver world-class industrially-focused research outcomes that will accelerate the deployment of offshore wind, wave and tidal-current technologies. This will help the UK to meet its 2020 and 2050 targets for renewable energy generating capacity, and expand and sustain a community of high-quality post-doctoral staff for the UK offshore renewable energy industry.

This programme will produce highly trained scientists and engineers, they will gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle current and future offshore renewable energy challenges. This includes developing new techniques and technologies to design, build, install, operate and maintain devices in hostile environments at an affordable economic cost with minimal environmental impact.

This will reinforce and support the UK’s conjoined infrastructure, which begins in the best academic research centres with leading test facilities and extends through a unique combination of demonstration facilities, ultimately to test and deployment sites.

Programme structure

Each Research Engineer will spend approximately 25% (180 credits) of his or her time in a structured training programme.

All courses are weighted at 10 credits (approx. 100 hours of student effort). The majority of courses will be at SCQF level 11 / FHEQ Level 7 as shown below.

Semester 1 (Year 1: September – December)

Introduction to Offshore Renewable Technologies

Will provide a synoptic overview of the modules that follow. Leading staff from the IDCORE and guest lecturers will deliver the material. The aim of this course is to give students an understanding of the background to and challenges of large-scale deployment of offshore renewable energy devices. An additional aim of the course is to help integrate the student body and to give an overview of the EngD programme and the topics covered.

Cross-disciplinary Engineering Science Foundations

Each student will be prescribed study to "gap fill", depending upon the qualification and knowledge base that they bring to the IDCORE from their earlier studies. Principally, this is likely to be fundamental material in Engineering Science, Computational and Statistical Methods, and experimental design.

Hydrodynamics of Offshore Renewable Energy Devices

Aims to foster knowledge and understanding of the factors influencing the dynamic behaviour of fixed and floating offshore renewable energy devices, and to develop skills in order to predict the dynamic motion and structural response of fixed and floating offshore renewable energy devices.

Electromechanical & Electronic Energy Conversion Systems

Aims to give students an excellent working knowledge and understanding of the theory, technology and practice of electrical energy conversion and conditioning in offshore renewable energy converters. Equipping them to gain maximum benefit from direct/indirect exposure to the practice & challenges in electrical generators, power electronics and control during their industrial projects.

Marine Renewable Resource Assessment

Explains and discusses the basic physics required in resource modelling and assessment for wind, wave and marine currents (including tidal); provides understanding of user needs for resource assessment and its relation to offshore marine energy production (i.e. calculation of energy yield across all offshore RE technologies); and describes the measurement and data analysis procedures for site resource assessment.

Economics Tools for Offshore Renewables

Addresses areas of economics crucial for the marine renewable sector: markets and energy markets, externalities; discounting and compounding; and levellised costs; system-wide economic and environmental impacts.

Semester 2 (Year 1: January – May)

Marine Operations, Condition Monitoring and Reliability

Develops an advanced understanding of design and installation requirements in the fields of i) Mooring and Anchor Design, ii) Deployment techniques and iii) Risk and Project Management. Students will gain competence in quasi-static and dynamic mooring analysis, anchoring and mooring methods and the implementation of recognised design codes, and competence with computational design tools that are routinely adopted in industry, for analysis and design tasks.

Physical Model Testing for Offshore Renewables

Addresses laboratory-based testing and field trials for assessment of performance and survivability, instrumentation technologies, data acquisition and analysis, analysis of Uncertainty and experiment design, in the context of a highly time- and cost-limited campaigns. The course will include lectures, hands-on demonstrations and mini-projects, taking full advantage of the range of internationally leading facilities available within the consortium.

Structural Behaviour of Offshore Renewable Energy Devices

Aims to provide knowledge and foster understanding of the factors influencing the structural response of fixed and floating offshore renewable energy devices to external loading, and to develop skills in order to predict ultimate strength of structural components of fixed and floating offshore renewable energy devices.

Electricity Network Interaction, Integration and Control

aims to give students an excellent working knowledge and understanding of the theory, technology and practice of the network interaction, integration and control of electricity supplied from offshore renewable energy converters. This will equip them to gain maximum benefit from direct/indirect exposure during their industrial projects to the practice & challenges in delivery and control of electrical power flowing from offshore networks to the customer.

Marine Energy System Design Interdisciplinary Group Project;

exposes the students to the challenges and excitement of synthesis of knowledge spanning engineering, environmental science, economics, business and societal areas. The basis of the course is an interdisciplinary a group design exercise, led by an external expert from the private sector. The course will be taught as an intensive two-week block, suiting both the nature of the work and the availability of leading external experts.

Marine Renewables and the Environment

gives students an understanding of the key oceanographic, biochemical and faunal features of coastal marine systems from an ecological perspective as they impinge on offshore renewable energy developments. Background biology of key habitats and species groups are introduced along with their likely vulnerabilities to interactions (negative or positive) to device construction or operation. The most common survey and data processing techniques are introduced along with practical demonstrations at sea and in the lab. Particular attention will be paid to the differences and difficulties of collecting unbiased data in high energy environments.

Summer Schools (two weeks in June-August)

Marine Renewables and Society

Broadens students understanding of the competing interests associated with marine real-estate, and how they impact the site selection, progress and compromises enforced on marine renewable energy developments. The latest methods used to balance competing interests (Marine Spatial Planning) are introduced and discussed. The legal processes used to assess environmental impacts are covered to a level where students will understand the relevance and timescales associated with environment consenting processes. Topics include introduction to marine resources; overview of marine users; marine governance, policy, and planning; overview of assessment mechanisms.

Offshore and Nearshore Renewables – the Maritime Realities

Will be hosted at HR Wallingford and will give industrial context and focus to courses taught earlier in the year by the universities. The course will: increase understanding of waves & tides, coastal morphology, and structural design, with general lessons from offshore, coastal and harbour engineering; Explore wider effects of off- and near-shore renewable schemes on the coastal environment, identifying modelling required of those effects, and their contributions to EIAs; Demonstrate practical aspects of scheme design, boundary conditions, and practical & economic constraints; Explore operational constraints and demonstrate use of planning & forecasting tools; Demonstrate use of design methods, manuals and codes, highlighting typical inconsistencies .

Moorings and Reliability

Enables students to understand the wider aspects of Moorings and Reliability and obtain experience at sites and from industry. It will be given over a two weeks and will consist of lectures, presentations from industry, mini workshops and visits to facilities, such as boat trips to South West Mooring Test Facility, Falmouth Bay Test Site, visits to Dynamic Marine Component Test facility.

Open/Distance learning management courses integrated into research phase

Innovation Design and Manufacturing Management

Gives students: an understanding of the entrepreneurial process with its various components; an understanding of the role and importance of entrepreneurship in the modern economy; a knowledge of the operation of commonly used methods for managing design and product information; the ability to critically evaluate entrepreneurial ventures from the point of view of entrepreneurs, investors and government; the ability to analyse manufacturing organisations; understand the complexity of managing supply chains; the ability to go through an entrepreneurial process that culminates in the production of a business plan.

Management of the Project Lifecycle

Gives the students grounding in techniques commonly used to manage large scale projects such as would be involved in the development of offshore renewable energy installations and their operation. By the end of the course the student should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the stages of a project and the principal players within and outwith a project; analyse a project and produce a plan and a schedule of resource requirements, as well as perform limited optimisation studies; appreciate the fundamentals of hazards and risks in the development of projects and how these may be managed; understand how the various parties involved in an engineering project use estimating and budgeting techniques as financial control tools, and understand the contractual aspects between all parties involved.

Regulation in the Offshore Renewable Sector

Exposes the students to the need for and operation of the regulatory processes that govern deployment. It will cover: leasing; consenting; certification; standards; maritime, offshore and onshore operations legislation; EIA; CDM; H&S and site management; network connection codes of practice. The course, delivered by a combination of IDCORE staff and The Crown Estate; DEFRA; Cefas; H&S Executive and National Grid and will make extensive use of case studies.

Research Project

Research Projects will comprise 540 credits, amounting to 75% of the research engineer effort on the EngD. Research Engineers will attend a total of three summer schools during their projects, and will attend the annual Company Day, and appropriate technical conferences.

Research projects are proposed by renewable energy companies in wave, tidal and offshore wind energy. Projects are allocated during the first year of the programme, at the beginning of the second semester (in January). The Research Engineer will take an active role in defining his or her professional development programme in line with the needs of the research project and his or her individual aims.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

Approximately 75% of the Research Engineer's time will be spent on one or more research project(s) with academic and industrial supervision. Each Research Engineer will spend approximately 25% of his or her time in a structured training programme.


The taught component will comprise 180 credits, amounting to 25% of the research engineer’s effort on the EngD. There will be three strands to the taught component;

  • an intensive, two-semester phase of 12 courses delivered in attendance at the University of Edinburgh (120 credits in total);
  • summer schools delivered in Oban, Wallingford and Falmouth (30 credits in total);
  • integrated studies in management, business, innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship, delivered during the research phase to maximise relevance and utilisation of gathering experience with company (30 credits in total).

Courses will be taught and examined by the IDCORE partners with most appropriate skills and facilities. Teaching will be in attendance throughout the first two semesters, and in the residential summer schools. Details of the courses will be specified in the Programme Handbook.


Research Projects will comprise 540 credits, amounting to 75% of the research engineer effort on the EngD. Research Engineers will attend a total of three summer schools during their projects, and will attend the annual Company Day, and appropriate technical conferences.

Research projects are proposed by renewable energy companies in wave, tidal and offshore wind energy. Projects are allocated during the first year of the programme, at the beginning of the second semester (in January). The Research Engineer will take an active role in defining his or her professional development programme in line with the needs of the research project and his or her individual aims.


During the EngD programme, students will be undertaking a project that tackles a genuine commercial problem in a real-world environment.  This kind of broad training, alongside the development of research and commercial skills, will make EngD students extremely employable.

Research Engineers will spend 75% of the time throughout their project in industry, thereby developing successful networks and contacts for future employment.

Entry requirements

  • Applicants should have, or expect to receive a first class honours degree or an international equivalent. Students with an upper second class degree and a subsequent MSc degree will also be considered. It is expected that candidates will have a good understanding of one or more branches of science or engineering and at least some relevant research experience. Equivalents to UK qualifications - this link takes you to a page in the University of Edinburgh website.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate enthusiasm, creativity, resourcefulness and a mature approach to learning
  • Non-UK candidates whose mother language is not English must provide a certificate of proficiency in the English language. English language requirements

Fees and funding

IDCORE Studentships

A scholarship that provides a student stipend of £15k rising to £17k and covers the tuition fees is available for suitably qualified applicants. There are normally 10 of these scholarships available for each intake of students and they are awarded competitively. To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) you must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning you have no restrictions on how long you can stay and
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals)

To be eligible for a fees only award:

  • Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

There is a small quota for full studentships for exceptional EU candidates.

There are also a number of University schemes, including Masters scholarships for international students. Please see our funding webpages for details. Funding opportunities are subject to change, so for the latest information we recommend searching our funding database.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

Postgraduate research admissions

Phone: +44 (0) 1392 722730
WebEnquire online

Further information

Full details about postgraduate study and research can be found on the Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences website.

Professional accreditation

This degree has been accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council.

This EngD research degree is accredited as :

  • Meeting the further learning requirements, in full, for registration as a Chartered Engineer, and a Chartered Marine Engineer;
  • Meeting the Initial Professional Development Requirements, in part, for registration as a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Marine Engineer.

Accreditation is a mark of assurance that the degree meets the standards set by the Engineering Council in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC).  An accredited degree will provide you with some or all of the underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills for eventual registration as Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Chartered Marine Engineer (CMarEng). Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.

The Engineering Council provide an accredited course search web page as well as further information for prospective students, where you can find a list of all our accredited degree programmes.


Renewable Energy at Exeter has access to the conventional laboratory facilities, including materials testing and workshops but also has significant specialist resources applicable to the renewable energy sector. Most of these are unique facilities relating to ocean energy research, power systems and reliability and field studies. These have relevance both for fundamental research and industrial projects.

South West Mooring Test Facility (SWMTF)

An offshore wave buoy specifically designed to undertake large scale testing of mooring line responses and loads that provide input into numerical models.

Dynamic Marine Component Test Facility (DMaC)

A laboratory facility designed to simulate offshore dynamic loads which also has application to more general materials and component testing.

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